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tv   Tavis Smiley  WHUT  June 15, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with a grammy award winning singer, shawn colvin. dn addition to having a new c out, she has a new book called "diamond in the rough," talks about her bouts with alcoholism and depression. three-time grammy-winning artist shawn colvin, coming up. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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tavis: pleased to welcome shawn colvin to this program. the three-time grammy winner has, like one of her previous songs, "diamond in the rough. -- in the rough. and now, we have "all fall down." ♪ >> ♪ i am flat on my back
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i'm staring up at the ceiling we all fall down we all fall down we all fall down ♪ tavis: glad to have you here. what is it about shawn colvin that has her consistently writing about love and hard date? -- heartache? if they categorize records by theme, you would be in the love and heartache category. >> what else is there? tavis: i do not know, social protest. >> social protest, yes. mine is a personal protest, if
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you will, or personal whining or personal angst. that is what i've learned for. it is good to write abouloss, pain. it inspires ones, unless you are hideously depressed, in which case you cannot do anything. tavis: cathartic. it also requires, to my mind, a lot of courage, a lot of openness, a lot of transparency. how did you get ok with that? >> i have always kind of been ok with that. i have never shied away from being ok about my feelings. i really value honesty and openness. it sounds rather trite when i
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say it, but i do not like phoniness or artifice or pretense. so why in denver to be as real to be as real as i can. tavis: when you write a book like this, "diamond in the rough," and you talk about alcoholism and depression and anorexia, that is a lot. >> you know, i was kind of their did you write this book. i would not have thought about it on my own -- i was kind of dared to write this book. would anybody really like to read it? so i thought, what is my intent here?
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the thing that has helped me the most through that stuff is other people being open about their own experiences. you have your family and friends who help you through it and hold your hand, but knowing you are not alone. tavis: so the source of the alcoholism, depression, anorexia, same source, or multiple factors that brought in all on? >> that is the million-dollar question. i think some of it is genetic. some of it is situational. i think if one has an addictive nature, i am not sure where that comes from. that could be genetic, as well, but that is something i have got, you know? and the depression is a lot of that, and i think that is genetic, genetic and biological, so running from that takes on a lot of forms. tavis: how do you not run from
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it? >> that takes learning. you know, i was quite young when i started showing symptoms of it, and we did not know what to call it. it was the early mid-1960s, and i lived in a small town, provincial -- mid-1960's, and i lived in a small town, provincial. meds. very helpful. for some of us, it is the main way, at least, for me, it is anyway. exercise. reducing stress, therapy. tavis: does love factor in there? >> it depends on how you look at it.
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when you talk about the romantic kind of love, it shoots the way up, and then i go way down, so that is my issue, my problem that has nothing to do with genetics. tavis: a problem in your life. >> thank you. tavis: it is me. >> it is not new in particular. but love, for example, for my child -- it is not you in particular. but love, for my child, it is pure and selfless. tavis: to your child, you even talk about the postpartum depression you had with having her, and even that brought on some depression. >> yes, my chemistry. you know, i figured everybody gets something, you know? physically, i am healthy as a horse and have always held up, but in the mental illness
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department, i have got my share. it is just what i have got. tavis: i want to go back to this courageous and this. there are people who wrestle with those issues who do not want anyone to know about it. they say they have got it under control, they are working on it. mike wallace comes to mind. the late mike wallace came out about his condition when he was on "60 minutes." it is not just cathartic. where did you find the capacity to own that? >> well, again, the most healing thing that has happened to me during those times is someone else's willingness to really talk about it, and, in fact, mike wallace being interviewed for the book and numerous other people that you would not
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expect, you know, strong, men with, you know, intellectual careers, and that was so great to hear about that. we are not crazy. we are just sick. it is just like cancer. and it can be treated. tavis: so the meds can help about the depression. what do you do about this man problem? other than write songs about it? >> i quit. i had quit. tavis: you just gave up. >> i gave up. it has worked and not just fine. i have had my share. there have been great things
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that have happened to me with men. tavis: exactly. a lot of good stuff. let me shift gears. i do not know where to go after that comment. so i will move onto something else. >> ok. tavis: one of my favorite artists of all time, and she has been on this show, and i was just giddy the day her crew pulled up on the lot, i'd love -- i love bonnie rait. -- raitt. she found commercial success or a claim -- or acclaim, and the
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same can be said of you, that it did not come for you when you were a maybe. so what do you make of that? that it came when it came? >> well, it is what it is, but i feel lucky about it, to tell you the truth. tavis: right. >> for one thing, i got a chance to really cut my teeth on down and dirty struggling, hard work in this business, you know? nothing came to me on a silver platter. tavis: mm-hmm. >> i also got the chance to slowly build an audience. from the time my first record came out, i promoted the heck out of that thing and went to 1 million radio station, a million small clubs -- 1 million radio stations.
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radio, being what it was then, you build a slow, grass roots, loyal following, and by the time i had a hit song, i was more mature. i knew more about the business, and i was able to handle it with some levity, because it is not to you are. it is a great bank. -- thing. after that song had diminished in popularity, i still had my, you know, loyal fan base there, and i am still working, and not everybody is that has had some commercial success like that, and they fade away or do not know what else to do, but i am lucky. tavis: i wonder, because you said it and made me wonder, how an artist breaks into day like
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you did back then, because you are right when you said radio being what it was back then -- how anrtist breaks in today like you did back then. those outlets do not exist like they did. unless you've lucked out on "american idol" or something obviously, the internet lets you put your things out there, but what do you say to people who do not have those outlets? because it is not like it used to be, where you could go out and work your hustle? >> a means to an end has really changed. in other words, to worked in clubs and do that kind -- to work in clubs and do that kind of guerrilla style, like the beatles got really good, and i think that is invaluable, but
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how you get the music out there anymore, it is so disposable. you know, i still believe in the album and deacon sensuality of that -- and deacon sexuality -- and the conceptuality of that, that does not happen much anymore. i mean rarely. tavis: and fan of the beatles? >> yes. i was young. yes, you know, i lived in this small town in south dakota, and we went to church, and my brother light classical music, so i was not in on elvis -- my brother liked classical music, so i was not in elvis.
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-- in on elvis, and we watched "ed sullivan," and there they were. i was does flabbergasted. it was unlike anything. my father had the kingston trio, my mother had soundtracks from musicals, lots of great music that influenced me, but this was another matter. and they were cute. tavis: but they were men. >> i did not care than. they were ok. they were ok. but, as we all know in retrospect -- that is not true. not everybody got it. just like i do not get my daughter's music. the beatles, in hindsight, they were geniuses. tavis: all of those disparate sounds, all good stuff.
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quincy jones told me there are only two types of music, good music and bad music, and you are hearing classical music, and your mother likes to hear musicals, and your father -- hearing all of those things in your head, in your ear, how did you end up on this particular musical track? >> it should not have been such a long road. i should have known it. i played guitar. my dad taught me. and then it in the late 1960's, or so, all of the singer- songwriters came in, james taylor, jackson browne, crosby, stills, nash & young, judy collins, bonnie, and that was it
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for me. that was it, you know? that spoke to all of my feelings and to what i wanted to do with the guitar. i loved to play it. it was like the gates of heaven opened up, and i had all of this stuff to emulate, and that was good stuff, too, as we know, in retrospect begin. it was really good stuff, too, and then i just went off track, and not that i do not like country music, but i was in a lot of bands, and rock-and-roll, country music, bluegrass music, pop music, i try to be celine dion, and it just did not work. i did not feel comfortable with it, and i took a year off at some point, after i got sober,
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actually, because your identity, that is not who you are, the music. you are another entity. the music is what you choose for what you do. i chose not to do it to see who i am, but about one year later, i thought, "weight. i am good with music." -- "wait, i am good with music." then there was the fact that i am a good solo performer, just like my idol. i am good at being open, honest. and i turned a corner. tavis: you just said something that blew me away and got my attention, in part because it
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sounds to me that it is counterintuitive, and i think i get it, but for me and those watching, tell me about how stepping away from it allow you to discover who you really are -- allowed you to discover who you really are. how do you step away from it and come into it? >> well, i did not put a time on it. it happened to be a year, but i was dead serious that maybe that was not for me, and i put it down to choice. i did not ever feel that i had the choice to do anything but be a musician, and it has made -- it did me a disservice at some point. it was my identity, i mean,
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entirely my id, and i found out at one time in my life -- entirely my identity, and i found out at one time in my life, and that is when i became anorexic. in the mid-1980's, when i got sober, things opened up, and i got enlightened about what we are really about, honesty, how we be able to others, -- how we behave to others, spiritual things, being accountable, and everything with choice. i can choose to make this a lousy, or i can choose to do something about it. i can choose to drink, or i can choose not to drink. it is my choice. realizing i was not really that happy doing gigs i was doing, it
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did not feel right. i felt like i was faking it. and i thought, you can make a choice here. you are not bound and tied to this idea of being an artist or a musician, and i took a page out and hung out with my friends, if i was happy. tavis: eventually, to your point, it starts to click, and you had won seven grammys and were selling records and our beloved around the world, -- you had won some grammys and were selling records and are beloved around the world, and you end up on stage playing alongside dylan, james taylor -- how do you describe that? >> there is nothing better. there is nothing better. to love those people like i did,
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and you always dream of getting to tell -- "when i heard "fire and rain," it changed my life." it means a lot to us. they are not going to know you. they have heard a time or two, sent to -- they have heard it a time or two, so to get to be a little bit real, and then, yes, to be able to play music with them, who would have thought? a dream come true. it does not get any better. tavis: we were talking about the book. tell us about the new project, "all fall down." >> i started working on the
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record. after i finished the book, because i did not have the capacity to do both at the same time, so that came afterwards, and there is some nostalgia. tavis: you have some people on there. emmylou harris, alison krauss. >> "honey, can you come down?" and she is there in the curlers. tavis: i love them both, the book and the cd. put the book up first. "diamond in the rough." that is the book. and then the new record. >> the album. tavis: it is called "all fall
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down," and there is some good stuff on there, including some collaborations with the artists i mentioned before. shawn, congratulations on all of your success. i am delighted to have you here. that is our show for tonight. you can download are new app from the app store. good night, and as always, keep the faith. ♪ do not know where you are going do not know where you are do not know where you have been we all fall down we all fall down we all fall down we all fall down
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we all fall down we all fall down down, down ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with -- the miracle on the hudson pilots, captain chesley sullenberger. that is next time. we will see you then.
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>> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs. >> be more. pbs.
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